United States Grand Prix FIA Press Conference Ron Dennis (McLaren) Eddie Jordan (Jordan) Tony Purnell (Jaguar) David Richards (BAR) Paul Stoddart (Minardi Friday, June 18, 2004 Part 1 of 3 MODERATOR: Right to left in the back row, Tony...
United States Grand Prix FIA Press Conference
Ron Dennis (McLaren)
Eddie Jordan (Jordan)
Tony Purnell (Jaguar)
David Richards (BAR)
Paul Stoddart (Minardi
Friday, June 18, 2004
Part 1 of 3
MODERATOR: Right to left in the back row, Tony Purnell and Paul Stoddart and Eddie Jordan, nothing to do with me. And front row right to left, Ron Dennis and David Richards of BAR. Gentlemen, first thing I'd like to ask you is about the regulations for 2006, which I believe you're going to discuss at a meeting on Monday week where it's being finalized. I don't know what the situation is, but if you would tell me, have those regulations been agreed on? Do you agree with them? Because we were told you all agreed on them, 2006, and what's the situation with that meeting? Tony, would you like to start off with it?
PURNELL: Certainly I'm not under the impression that the regulations have been agreed, you know, far from it. It's a sort of fact-finding exercise at the moment. From our point of view, we're just hoping that moves to contain the expense of Formula One and get it back into something that meets the sort of market forces will be achieved. And I think that's the mood of everybody. And, you know, I hope we're successful in finding that formula.
Q: Paul, what's your impression?
STODDART: Certainly don't think anything's been agreed. The Monaco meeting was simply a fact-finding mission. Perhaps it was played up a little bit more than that after the meeting, but I certainly don't feel we went away from there agreeing anything. What worries me a little bit is we haven't seen an agenda, or I certainly haven't seen and agenda for Monday week's meeting; and since it is so important, I sort of would like to have seen one by now. But we've got to try, as Tony says, try to contain the costs. And teams like Eddie and I are very interested to see where this goes.
JORDAN: Certainly nothing has been agreed, and there was a meeting in Monaco where Max told us what were the things that he would like to see, somewhere possible for move, and looked for an answer back from the teams. We've done that and did it almost immediately. So it is the position of Jordan within reason clear on the certain aspects. There were some things that he said that were not negotiable. But we'll have to wait and see what the agenda is like if I receive it.
Q: If I can change it for Mr. Richards and Dennis, what are the contentious issues in the regulations still? I know you're worried the regulations may be railroaded through. What don't you agree with?
RICHARDS: I think the fact of the matter is that what has been put to us, a set of regulations for 2008, at the end of the current Concorde Agreement, and there can be no argument about that. It's within the FIA's remit to present regulations that they're going to run the championship with from 2008 onwards is up to us to decide whether we're going to enter or not. As to whether any of those regulations can be brought forward or there's any benefit to bringing them forward, that's a further debate, but I don't see that's going to happen overnight.
DENNIS: I think, first of all, I echo pretty much what everybody else has said. The fact was it was a constructive meeting that took place in Monaco to discuss changes. It wasn't just a cost-driven discussion. We're very keen to improve the spectacle of Grand Prix racing. There are other issues, number of races, technical and commercial issues that were discussed. But the format, both there and in future meetings, shouldn't be a public format. I'm always mystified to come into an FIA press conference and to be asked questions that are by an FIA representative, which are contentious questions. I mean, we're looking for harmonious internal set of discussions which leads to a set of regulations or a commercial agreement that we are unified behind. So I'm always mystified why contentious questions are asked. For example, you asked the question 2006 regulations. There are no regulations going to change in 2006, unless it's by way of unanimous agreement between the parties that are signatories to the Concorde Agreement. That means the teams, the governing body, and the commercial rights holder. It's a simple fact. And for once I think we're in harmony as teams. We want to make things better. We want to make it better spectacle, we want to reduce cost and, you know, we're all committed to that. But it's never achieved in a public forum.
Q: OK, thank you. Tony, now just an individual question for each of you before we throw it open. What is needed at Jaguar to get them that little bit higher up? Because they seem to have slipped back.
PURNELL: That's fair. We're thoroughly disappointed with the season. We started with a very nice quick car, and we've been let down by a lot of small, small mistakes. We have a limited resource, and we put the effort into what we thought was important with the money we had. And I think we've been quite successful there. But in Formula One you've got to be good at everything, you can't make any mistakes anywhere; and you know, it's a no-prisoners game. And the areas that we haven't been so strong on have hurt us very badly. So, you know, I'm sort of 50/50 with it because when we were designing the car, if anybody had mentioned how the sort of lap times it's capable of, sort of nine months ago, we would have shaken our heads and said just no way, we're not going to make a car that good. But the standard this year is fabulous, and fantastic lap times compared to last year I'm afraid are ordinary. So it's a tough game, and we have to find all those little improvements. I have to say that it's one of the problems when you've got an adequate budget but not an excess, because money can mask mistakes. It's very easy to buy your way out of mistakes. We can't do that. We've got to get everything right, and if we don't, we're punished. But that's the game we're in. So no complaints.
Q: OK, thanks, Tony. Paul, I've seen quoted that you reckon that you're worse off than you have been for many years, yet you've got a better budget this year. How does that work out?
STODDART: Two reasons, one is Tony just touched on, is there are no bad cars, there are no bad chassis, there are no bad engines and there are no bad drivers. Simply put, we've taken two seconds a lap out of most of the tracks that we've been visited to this year. It's not enough. We're just getting left behind and we're being outspent enormously, which we accept. We accept our budget is the smallest in Formula One, but it is starting to really show. I think if you add that to the fact that we've had stable technical regs now for several years in a row, you're seeing the byproduct of that which is ultra-reliability. In the main most of the teams now will go through a race weekend with very little problems and you see consistently 15, 16, 17 cars finishing races. It would have been unheard of a few years ago. We're just being outspent and that's our problem.
Q: OK, Paul. Eddie, obviously a week ago a superb result for you guys. What was your reaction to that? Also, the fact that the third driver played such an important part?
JORDAN: Extreme fortunate, had no idea leaving the circuit what the end outcome was going to be. Doesn't matter where you are, two cars in the points is a result in any, whatever position you're in, and I was very pleased about that, of course. But it doesn't mean that we're any quicker. And the quick cars are fantastic at the moment. It seems like a distant past when we were fighting for a podium. That's not possible at the moment. But the fight back is good. We started this year where there was a lot of doom and gloom about Jordan, and we've kept our heads down and we've kept our mouths shut. And what we have done is get on with our job and prove that we are a significant member of the Formula One establishment and we will come again. This was part of the fight back in, and I'm enormously pleased at Timo Glock, who stepped in at extreme short notice. It just shows, and I'd like to say not just to the four other team principals here, but I had to send a document around, if you like, professing my faith in this driver and as to why he should get a super license; and I'd like to say thank you, their judgment is right. He is a good young driver, he's got great potential, and he deserved his license and he did us all proud for the people who signed on for that.
Q: Thanks, Eddie. David, for you, two questions about the future of the team. How long does your contract as management last for? And similarly, what's the situation with Honda at the moment?
RICHARDS: Both are still having final discussions on the intention, they've asked me to stay on for a longer period of time than my current agreement is, and we're just discussing that at the moment. And Honda, as they've obviously told you, are going to continue, but again, the term of that will be announced by Honda themselves, not me.
Q: So are they both up for negotiation at the moment?
RICHARDS: Both under discussion, it's not an immediate issue quite clearly, because my agreement doesn't come to an end until the end of 2006 anyway. And so the Honda situation is ongoing.
Q: OK, thank you. Ron, you may not like this question much either. Can you tell us what the situation is with GPWC? Because after the regulations that set of regulations came out it was suggested that was the end of GPWC. Is it still in existence?
DENNIS: I don't know why you're asking me, I'm no well better informed than any of the team principals. I understand it's moving forward, and it seems to be evolving into a different entity but still with the same name. Obviously, the more options the teams have, the better. And at some stage in the future, maybe there will be a choice between one series or another. But I think it's highly unlikely that common sense won't prevail and there will be one entity. But time is the sort of almost dangerous element in this because we don't have any decisions to take until the end of 2007. So, unless everybody agrees that is currently a signatory to the Concorde Agreement, we would be running under the same rules, regulations and commercial terms through to the end of that season. So anything that takes place will have to be through a process of, say, unanimity, which I sometimes doubt is ever possible in Formula One.
Q: Can I just ask a further question on that? How is it changed in that way?
DENNIS: I think that there's an understanding, a common understanding of the format, but a much sort of more effort being put into the operational aspects of the series and an alternative commercial approach, and perhaps bringing in third-party competence to bear on some of the issues. So it's, you know, an ever-changing scene at the moment.
Q: OK, thank you. Some questions from the floor.
Q: Speaking of cost, how much better has it been to have the two North American events on consecutive weekends just from an efficiency standpoint and travel standpoint with your teams?
DENNIS: I'll have a go. I think, first of all, consecutive Grand Prixs as regards controlling air costs have a relatively minimal impact. Obviously it is a shorter period of time people are away from home, and let's say the fixed costs, hotels, those sorts of costs, travel costs, et cetera, tend to have some small impact on it. But as a percentage of the whole cost, it's a relatively small percentage. Where the costs increase is that you have to have more people to cope with the workload, and it's a more intense period of preparation, because you're not going back to base and, therefore, you have to carry all the equipment and spares to maintain the cars between the events. So from a savings cost point of view, probably hard to say that there's any cost benefit at all. The biggest negative for us all is the tremendous pressures it puts on the workforce. It probably impacts less on the people sat in front of you than it does on the guys who are preparing the cars or who have direct responsibilities that involve them directly in the team operation. And, you know, the pressure comes not necessarily on them physically but more on their family lives and the burnout that inevitably comes with personnel traveling around the world and that being impacted by these back-to-back races. But having said all of that, the teams all contribute to the view that World Championship must be that, and America and Canada is extremely important to our calendar. It obviously gives us the ability to attract some American investment into our sport, and we wouldn't want to see these races move off the calendar. But we are all feeling the strain of what is going to be an 18-race series this year.
Q: Anything further to add anyone?
RICHARDS: How can you add to that?
JORDAN: Just very briefly, I'm not sure if Ron completely touched on it. I think the workforce when we discussed it with them would rather have two races back to back like this where they're not having to stay out. For example, the previous race between Indy and Japan, they all stayed out and they -- it wasn't never viable from a time frame or a cost to go back. So from that point of view, I advocate strongly these back-to-back races because what it does do is take pressure off when we're trying to negotiate a calendar with Bernie and the other people involved putting on the races. The three-week gap in the summer is still the most vital thing that we must preserve because that does give a meaningful home life to people who have young families. That's the key. If it means back to back, they should be retained.
Q: Anything further?
STODDART: I would add the back to back for us has certainly worked for us on these two races. As Eddie said before, when we had the 2002 situation with Japan, where we were out for three and a half weeks in total; that does take a heavy toll on people's home lives. We as a team probably saved a little bit of money over this. We didn't quite get raped and pillaged on our freight charges as much as we would have if it had two races instead of one.